COVID-19 DIARY – A YEAR INTO IT

20200313_210011At the Brisbane Comedy Festival, March 13 2020. Copyright Lloyd Marken

March 13

For me it always come back to Friday the 13th of March.

As we entered 2021 there were lots of anniversary milestones.

The first reported case in America, in the UK, in Australia, when restrictions came into place for air travel.

Monday the 16th of March was actually when new restrictions came into place in Australia but it is Friday the 13th that holds the most significance for me when the restrictions were announced.

That whole week things had been brewing.

Schools shut down in France, only food stores and pharmacies were allowed to be open in Italy, the stockmarket crashed, government ministers across the world were testing positive for the virus and the World Health Organisation was declaring a global pandemic.

We knew we were building to something but Friday the ripchord was pulled.

The Formula 1 in Melbourne was cancelled, the Prime Minister announced there would be no mass gatherings of 500 people or more come Monday. How quaint that now seems.

Formula One's Australian Grand Prix cancelled amid coronavirus fears |  Formula One | The Guardian

I went to the Brisbane Comedy Festival that night and met up with some friends to review Dave Hughes doing his stand-up show for Scenestr magazine. There was a sense of one last hurrah before leaping into the unknown.

We didn’t know what was to come but we knew it was coming.

Nothing was going to be the same for a while. What would become the new normal? The sooner we found out the sooner the whole population could become comfortable with it.

There was an uncertainty in the air but also a resolve.

Now that things were happening we just knew we had to get on board with it and reassuringly most people’s thoughts turned to others and how to help them.

Whether it was fundraising for Meals on Wheels America,

The Salvation Army here in Australia,

charities that help Australian veterans like Mates4Mates, Soldier On with patron 101 year old Sgt Bert who is a genuine Rat of Tobruk, and veterans’ families Legacy,

or The International Association for Human Values as they provided food to daily wage earners who had lost their jobs in India,

or the Endeavour Foundation who help people with disabilities,

or Medecins Sans Frontieres as they provided medical aid across the world for COVID or disaster relief,

or the charity Headspace that provides mental health support for young people,

or the After School All Stars Program for school children in America that pivoted during COVID to provide food during lockdowns,

or the GoFundMe page BuyThemACoffee organised by Kaylie Smith who raised over $80,000 dollars to provide free coffees for nursing staff across the country,

or a little initiative in support of a small cafe in Toowong called StellaRossa that saw 200 coffee vouchers delivered to hospital staff at the nearby The Wesley Hospital,

or The London Ambulance Service Charitable Fund

– the legacy and example of Captain Tom Moore lived on in many acts far and wide.

Money isn’t everything either, whether it was a phone call, a skype, some flowers or a gift, or where possible a visit.

People looked out for each other and buoyed each other’s spirits.

I know I owe a great deal to many calls to my parents and to the humour and kindness of my dear friends and wife.

Recently a work colleague tracked down a Lego kit from the 1980s, created a package to house it with some kind words on it and handed it over to me.

I think it is one of the best gifts I have ever received.

I don’t like to think about what it might have cost him but the most important thing to me is the thought that went into it and the reason he gave it to me is truly humbling.

I posted my first post about COVID-19 back on the 22nd of April covering events starting the 3rd of March. I eventually caught up with current events and with each post scheduled two days apart I had a whole month of posts scheduled throughout July at the end of June.

Then I went on my secondment and subsequently fell behind.

I’m still playing catch-up.

This will be the 148th post in a row on this topic.

The COVID-19 Diary changed my blog, made it more personal which I need to be vigilant about not doing too much of.

I have written about other things but always in the context of this COVID year.

I probably imagined that I would write about it for at least a year or two but not necessarily at this length.

20200606_150919 Copyright Lloyd Marken.

During June in the wake of Black Lives Matters and receding COVID numbers I wondered what I would write about next.

I felt more removed from events happening around the world – rather than writing about what was happening to me I was merely curating news.

Then the outbreak from hotel quarantines happened in Victoria and it seems there has always been something ever since including lockdowns and scares in Brisbane.

Also I became aware of the need to write about nice things happening like my holidays, secondments and weddings.

20200703_094616

The Polish Place. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

Subsequent waves were devastating countries like the U.S. and U.K. and Brazil and now places like India. Just as that first wave was in China all that time ago.

With fellow bloggers and family in those countries they have never been far from my mind as I wrote about the situation in Australia which by comparison made me feel very fortunate.

It seemed a tall order to have our scientists come up with a vaccine in twelve months back at the beginning but they did.

20210214_191802

Copyright Lloyd Marken

Being a year on makes you wonder where we will be a year from now.

Hopefully better off.

Hopefully there will be less diary entries.

Hopefully.

I do strongly suspect I will still be writing about COVID to some extent for some time to come.

Last year I saw my family in early March for birthday catch-ups.

I didn’t see my parents again in person for roughly three months. Then not again until November,

Then Christmas.

Then around New Years.

Then March again for the birthdays a year on.

That was nice.

Awesome Time Lapse Video Of Planet Earth Taken On The ...

On the 13th of March of 2020 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 138,347 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 9,432.

There had been 5,087 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 362.

On the 13th of March, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 118,774,981 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 482,705.

There had been 2,637,553 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 9,548.

We felt we had beaten it': New Zealand's race to eliminate the coronavirus  again

On the 13th of March, 2020 in New Zealand there had been 5 confirmed cases with a daily increase  The first case reported in the country had been on the 28th of February, 2020. The first recorded death would be on the 29th of March, 2020.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in New Zealand there had been 2,066 confirmed cases with a daily increase of five. There had been 26 deaths.

Ladakh to Kerala, vaccine rollout begins | India News,The Indian Express

On the 13th of March, 2020 in India there had been 78 confirmed cases with a daily increase of one. The first recorded cases were five on the 30th of January, 2020. The first death due to COVID-19 was recorded on the 13th of March, 2020.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in India there had been 11,333,728 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 24,882. There had been 158,446 deaths with a daily increase of 140.

Canada: military reveals “horrific” conditions in aged care homes ...

On the 13th of March, 2020 with a daily increase of 59 cases the total number in Canada jumped to 152. The first death recorded March 11, remained the only one in the country.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in Canada there had been 899,757 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,018. There had been 22,371 deaths with a daily increase of 36.

A row of patient transport vans are parked outside the Epping Gardens aged care home.

On the 13th of March, 2020 there had been 189 cases of COVID-19 in Australia with 49 of those cases reported that day alone. There had been three deaths in my country at that point.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in Australia there had been 29,102 confirmed cases with a daily increase of twelve. There had been 909 deaths.

What to know about social distancing strategies amid coronavirus ...

On the 13th of March, 2020 there were 802 cases in total reported in the United Kingdom. Over a quarter of those had just been reported that day – 208. There were two new deaths leading to a total of 10.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in the United Kingdom there had been 4,247,068 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,759. There had been 125,343 deaths with a daily increase of 175.

New York City Mass Graves On Island Are Increasing Because Of ...

On the 13th of March, 2020 in the United States of America there were 277 new cases with a total of 1,264 overall. There were 36 dead, 7 from that day alone.

In the United States of America there had been 29,000,561 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 60,312. There had been 527,068 deaths with a daily increase of 1,570.

Coronavirus digest: France reports over 50,000 cases in single day | News |  DW | 25.10.2020

In France on the 13th of March, 2020 the World Health Organisation reported an increase from 2,281 to 3,640 in the country. There was a daily increase of 31 dead in the country taking the total of 79.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in France there had been 3,946,733 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 25,120. There had been 89,632 deaths with a daily increase of 290.

Coronavirus: South Korea declares highest alert as infections surge - BBC  News

On the 13th of March, 2020 in South Korea there had been 7,979 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 110. There had been 67 deaths with a daily increase of one.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in South Korea there had been 95,169 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 490. There had been 1,667 deaths with a daily increase of five.

COVID-19 and the Iranian Shadows of War | Chatham House – International  Affairs Think Tank

On the 13th of March, 2020 in Iran there had been 11,368 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,289. There had been 514 deaths with a daily increase of 85.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in Iran there had been 1,731,558 confirmed cases with a a daily increase of 8,088. There had been 61,069 deaths with a daily increase of 53.

Image: A man wearing a protective mask passes by the Colosseum in Rome on March 7, 2020 amid fear of Covid-19 epidemic.

In Italy the WHO reported a daily increase of 2,547 cases bringing the national total to 21,157. The death toll increased by 252 taking us to 1,268.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in Italy there had been 3,175,807 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 26,790. There had been 101,564 deaths with a daily increase of 380.

Medics work in ICU of Huoshenshan Hospital- China.org.cn

On the 13th of March, 2020 in China there had been 80,991 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eleven. There had been 3,181 deaths with a daily increase of eight.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in China there had been 102,276 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 73. There had been 4,849 deaths. That’s not fuckin true but anyway that is what was reported.

Photos: Sobering images show Brazil's mounting coronavirus death toll

I thank you for following me on this journey, for sharing it with me. It has meant a lot to me to continue writing and to have people who read and comment or offertheir own knowledge. As we continue I hope the journey gets easier and I hope you are there with me.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – OH CHRISTMAS TREE, OH CHRISTMAS TREE

20201128_220402
                                Our Christmas Tree. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

November 28

On Saturday the 28th of November we put up our Christmas Tree again for the second year in a row.

I never really got around to getting a Christmas tree when I was a bachelor.

But as soon as Karen and I moved in together she got one for our apartment.

It was 2011 and I was temping and working nights at BIG W. We lived pay to pay.

It was an old fibre optic tree that no longer worked that she picked up at a Salvos store.

Half a metre tall, bent over we had no decorations but Karen placed a Christmas Penguin toy at the foot of it and voila we had a Christmas tree.

A year later a colleague at QUT offered me is Christmas tree lights that he was throwing out because a third of them did not work.

With all of them wrapped en masse around that tiny tree you couldn’t tell.

Christmas Tree 2012

Last year I was made a permanent employee after years of working contracts. 

I decided I was getting our first proper tree.

I had always wanted a fibre optic tree but the ones in the shops seemed lacklustre in their lighting. I remembered ones that shone like the embers of a fire, not these little specks of light.

Resigned to having to temper my expectations my mother suggested we try the Christmas Warehouse just down the road from our place.

There we found a tree.

People advised us fibre optics don’t last.

The guy at the warehouse suggested not to get lights to go with the fibre optics, it would be overkill.

Karen worried I was spending too much by getting our first decorations but I saw it as an investment and at my urging she picked out some.

A consistent Christmas grinch I found myself excitedly putting up the tree and placing the ornaments with care.

Finally the sun went down and I flicked the switch.

My God it was beautiful, so beautiful that Karen beamed and we hugged each other.

Over a tree.

Why?…

I guess in that moment, we felt we got some points on the board.

I hope that tree may end up in our first home. 

I picked out ornaments to maybe one day be hung by the hands of a child or two.

Regardless of what the future may bring, looking at that lit up tree I felt I had one to look forward to.

If Christmas is truly about giving then my place of employment in 2019 gave me a truly generous gift and one that I will always be grateful for.

More so even given what had transpired for so many in the twelve months that followed.

One more final thing. 

A shout-out to my wife. 

I tried months earlier to untangle the Christmas tree lights.

Eventually I had decided I would hand them over to a charity store and buy a new set. A stupidly extravagant waste of money but one that I had resolved to make. 

One morning Karen said she’d give it a go untangling them if that was my decision. 

I went off and got ready for work and ten minutes later I come back out and she had them all untangled.

My wife had saved Christmas.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THE DAYS AHEAD

Stillwater Memorial Day Ceremony: 2019 Details | Stillwater, MN Patch

November 11

On the Australian Broadcasting Corporation program The 7:30 Report Leigh Sales interviewed Dr Anthony Fauci. A point of interest for me during the interview was when Dr Fauci advised lockdowns should be used as a last result and that due to COVID-19 fatigue such measures would not be well received by the public.

He later went on to add, “Australia is an example of a very successful result of a lockdown. They locked down for a period of time. They got down to zero and now they are at a very, very good baseline, which means, getting back to your prior question, that it is much easier to identify, isolate and contact trace when you start off with virtually no infection in your population.

Essentially he was pointing out a great deal of luck that Australia had by acting fact and being isolated to begin with. That maybe now trying to change the situation in America in a similar manner may not be possible and even if it was selling it to the public was as much a necessity as simply having the political will or wisdom to take such action. Not for the first time did I feel very fortunate for what has occurred in Australia and sad at what other countries were going through.

 

In 9/11 Chaos, Giuliani Forged a Lasting Image - The New York Times

November 12

Planet America covered Ballbag’s rhetoric about illegal votes and lawsuits and Rudy Guiliani who led New York through the harrowing days of September 11 and stood outside landscaping businesses and mocked networks calling elections and shat all over his legacy as a politician, a lawyer and a leader during one of the worst days in American history.

We’re not even at the farting and My Cousin Vinny references or the absurd fucking witnesses he let sit beside him in a court of law. 

I don’t give two shits if hair dye was running past the poor man’s face, I do care why the hell he was hopelessly trying to undermine the democratic process when so clearly they didn’t have a leg to stand on!

I don’t know if I really have it in my heart to go over this again but I have never been so heartbroken to see how fragile democracy is in America. This country celebrates and exports the idea of it across the world.

I remember once watching TV with a group of people, I think it was the Olympics.

The Americans stood up, placed their hands on their chests and bowed their heads. Us Aussies thought my God they really do love their country. They believe in it. They believe it is the greatest. So its kind of heartbreaking to see so many Americans complacent or downright in conflict with the things that were once celebrated about it by all. 

Philadelphia COVID-19 Community Information Fund launches - Lenfest  Institute

Co-host and journalist John Barron spoke of Joe Biden’s who when he joined the Senate was the second youngest ever elected to the U.S. Senate became the oldest man ever elected President of the United States of America. It’s powerful stuff.

I know that Joe Biden may not be all of these things. He certainly is not the man he once was.

But the storyteller in me likes the story, a young hotshot who a lifetime later rallied the last of his gifts to take one last turn at destiny and not out of personal ambition but to serve his country. To take back the people’s house from a self-serving lying bullying fool who had blood on his hands due to his own interests and incompetence and belligerence.

President-Elect Joe Biden faces a pandemic, a recession, a house divided and a populace much the same. There will be no magic wand waved here.

Maybe the story of Biden doesn’t ring true for you.

It probably isn’t true.

But maybe just maybe we’re about to have a President in the White House who cares when Americans die every day and will do everything he can to prevent as much death as he can.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

As Ballbag refused to concede he’d lost the election Americans continued to die.

Planet America reported hospitalisations were as high as they had been across the country and that once the hospitals were overrun beyond capacity, the death rate would rise. 

 

November 13

On Friday Western Australia took down its hard border with the rest of Australia. Travellers from Victoria and New South Wales could enter if they were prepared to self quarantine for 14 days.

All would have to undergo a health screening, a temperature check and prove they have not been in New South Wales or Victoria upon arrival, and register their travel arrangements on the “G2G PASS” app.

Since April for 222 days Premier Mark McGowan had kept the border closed with even WA residents kept out except in extreme cases and polling showed the Premier and his policy was hugely popular.

Months earlier the Premier had promised, “It won’t be forever,” and now he made good on his promise.

Western Australia had been a hold out from the National Cabinet’s decision to open state borders before Christmas. This gave many families hope they would see loved ones during the holidays. 

There were concerns and quite a ramp up to make sure that Western Australians were ready for the new arrivals and to not be complacent about COVID-19. 

Perth Airport | Aurecon

On Friday night Planet America also covered the continuing fall-out from the U.S. election and all the legal efforts to contest the outcome as Biden’s national popular vote continued to grow. Also discussion about how polling went in the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.

It was at around about this time as well that I donated to not only the Salvation Army again here in Australia but also to Meals On Wheels in America. Food security for many Americans is an issue particularly following the pandemic and mass unemployment and I wanted to help some of the most vulnerable in society. Meals on Wheels America doesn’t just feed older Americans it shows them that people still give a shit about them. 

Since Philadelphia citizens in 1954 started delivering to senior neighbours the organisation has grown to help nearly 2.4 million Americans annually. 

As per their website, “Every visit comes with a nutritious meal created to address the specific health conditions of the senior, a safety check around the house and an assessment of any changes that might impact future medical needs. This can mean the difference between independent living at home and an unwelcome transfer to a costly long-term care facility.

Thanks to so many donors, Meals on Wheels America were able to deliver over 19 million more meals in 2020 serving more than one million additional seniors.

In Australia my grandfather lived down the road from us, he babysat us growing up. He kept his drivers licence and independence until very near the end. Often my parents cooking would be enjoyed by him following a quick walk up the hill. Yet even under those circumstances he benefitted from some Meals on Wheels delivered to his house in his last few years. 

 

November 14

On Saturday the 14th of November the World Health Organisation reported globally there had been 53,219,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with a daily increase of 668,057.

There had been 1,303,062 deaths globally with a daily increase of 10,005.

Over fifty million cases worldwide had been reached the previous Monday with 50,348,362 and a daily increase of 532,475.

In Australia there had been 27,703 confirmed cases with a daily increase of five. There had been 907 deaths.

In Canada there had been 282,577 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,516. There had been 10,768 deaths with a daily increase of 83.

In India there had been 8,773,479 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 44,684. There had been 129,188 deaths with a daily increase of 520.

In the United Kingdom on the 24th of September there had been a new record of daily new cases reported – 6,178.

The next day a new record – 6,634.

The two days later a new record – 6,873.

Six days later, 30th of September a new daily record again – 7,143.

Ten days later on the 4th of October a new record – 12,871.

Eleven days later on the 5th of October there were 22,961 confirmed new cases reported.

Twenty eight days later on the 22nd of October a new record of daily cases again – 26,687.

That record was broken again on the 13th of November – 33,470.

In fifty days the record of daily new cases in the country has gone from 6,178 to 33,470.

UK honors war dead in scaled-back Remembrance Sunday service | KRNV

One million cases had been reported in the United Kingdom at the beginning of November – 1,011,664 to be exact.

The day after Remembrance Day Great Britain surpassed 50,000 deaths from COVID-19. 50,365.

On the 14th of November in the United Kingdom there had been 1,317,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a daily increase of 27,301. There had been 51,304 deaths with a daily increase of 376.

The World Health Organisation had reported on the 8th of November a record number of new daily cases in America of 131,821.

On the 12th of November they reported a new daily record of 133,935. America also reached more than 10 million cases with 10,124,555.

On the 13th of November a new daily record of 142,076.

On the 14th of November in the United States of America there had been 10,460,365 confirmed cases with a new record of daily new cases reported of 193,734. There had been 241,186 deaths with a daily increase of 1,142.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – THE NEW NORMAL – PART II

20200408_165255
Me with work colleagues 08APR2020. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

In the lead up to Easter I worked from home from the 06APR2020 – 09APR2020, raged against Trump’s behaviour on the news, anxiously watched the stats across the world but particularly in the UK and generally got on with it.

In Australia there were no more restrictions to put in place, we appeared to be flattening the curve but we needed to keep on doing what we were doing.

This was the new normal, I found myself calling friends more and definitely watching more news.

 

Scenestr was moving completely online for now and launching their new TV show (first episode debuted 26APR2020) following having produced videos for years.

I was grateful to have a job. People I know including Karen either lost work or lost their jobs completely.

With a rise in unemployment comes a rise in domestic violence and suicide.

While domestic violence also happens to men I did note that it was my female friends who first mentioned concerns about DV and suicide was on my mind with the rise of unemployment.

With no commute, a reduction in gym fees, fuel costs, no socialising, and no lunch at work I had a little bit more money available despite a recent parking fine sent to me.

So that payday I donated to the Salvation Army who help the homeless, those fleeing domestic violence or struggling to buy food.

 

Donate to the Disaster Appeal | The Salvation Army Australia

Many years ago a Sally man had come out of the jungle at Jacqinot Bay, New Britain during the second world war. He cooked for the Australians stationed there, their first hot cooked meal in weeks.

His actions ensured that members of a family ever since have donated to the Salvos.

 

06 April

In Great Britain Prime Minister Boris Johnson is admitted to hospital.

In America Trump peddles anti-malarial drug sounding like a snake oil salesman saying “What do you have to lose?” despite the fact that such drugs can have dangerous side effects.

 

 

07 April 

Prime Minister of Great Britain, Boris Johnson is admitted to ICU.

 

09 April

On the 9th of April, 2020 the World Health Organisation reported there were 6,052 confirmed cases in Australia with a daily increase of 96. There were 50 deaths with a daily increase of five.

In Ireland there were 6,224 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 515. There were 235 deaths with a daily increase of 25.

In India there were 5,865 cases with a daily increase of 591. There were 169 deaths with a daily increase of 20.

In Canada there were 18,433 cases with a daily increase of 1,384. There had been 401 Canadians die with a daily increase of 56.

In the United Kingdom there were 60,737 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,491. The death toll stood at 7,097 with a daily increase of 938.

In Italy there were 139,422 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,836. 17,669 Italians had died with a daily increase of 540.

In the United States of America there were 395,030 cases with a daily increase alone of 31,709! The number of dead rose to 12,740 with a daily increase of 1,895.

-Lloyd Marken